18/12/2012

Film Review: Vinyl

Vinyl. The very word highlights the gaping split between the generations that this film is about. People of a certain age hear vinyl and think of records, others hear it and think of PVC trousers.

The film Vinyl is about a group of former punk musicians who produce a new song, but no one wants to touch them because they're the wrong age to be a big hit. So they hire some youths to pretend to be the band, and chart success ensues. That is the interesting point behind this film; our obsession with style and image, our interest in how our music 'looks', leads to a form of prejudice, ageism.

Sadly, the underlying interesting point is the best bit of the film. The UK setting doesn't show cool London or the verdant countryside, it just acts as a bit of a drab background to a film that is based on a true story of Mike Peters. The plot is filled with so much narratively necessary coincidence that it doesn't seem real. A film based on a true story that doesn't seem real – quite an accomplishment.

Take for example (along with a stern spoiler alert), the lead singer of the fake band turns out to be the son of the lead singer of the old band. The old lead singer finds this out on the very day that his partner (who's been trying IVF) finds out she's pregnant. Statistically, the odds of all that happening are up there with being struck by lightning as you collect your Euromillions lottery win.

Phil Daniels is pretty good as the main lead, mixing the vulnerability needed to like his character with the arrogance needed to pull this hoax off. Keith Allen stars as one of the band members (who, since the band split, went on to separately gain all the skills required to make this plan work – more coincidence). Keith doesn't play his usual type in this, but gives his character an accent that's trying to be northern. It's like when someone goes on holiday to America for two weeks and comes back with a slight twang. Keith sounds like he had a weekend break to Hull.

And like many films that are based on a band it suffers from the effect of having the same song played again and again. Think "That Thing You Do!"

It's great that this film tried to disprove the very ageism it's about; it's main characters are older men, not great-looking, dealing with parental issues instead of a love story – just a shame it didn't quite work as well as it could've done.

[Vinyl is released 15th March 2013]
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